​Cheaper Alternatives for Cooking with Common Meats


Purchasing meat doesn’t have to mean racking up a large grocery bill. We’ve compiled a list of alternative meat cuts that will not only save you a few bucks, but also make a delicious meal!

What makes them less expensive?
 
Cheaper cuts of meat tend to come from the front or rear end of the animal. These areas are a tougher meat because they are exercised compared to highly quality cuts. Often these cuts of meat require a bit more work by either having to remove bones or applying tenderizing methods before cooking.
 
What are the benefits of using inexpensive cuts?
 
Besides the obvious fact that their price tag is lower, they help to save you money because you get more for what you pay for. For an example, buying a chuck roast will be cheaper and could supply you with a week’s worth of meals compared to purchasing 4 rib-eye steaks for one dinner.
 

  
Shoulder cuts are economical and can be rich in flavour with a little extra work. What makes them so cheap? Cuts from the cow’s shoulder often contain connective tissue or bones and tend to be tougher. Shoulder cuts may not be readily available, but your local butcher can either cut or order them for you upon request.
 
Try one of the following shoulder cuts:
 
Flat Iron Steak
 
Also known as top blade, this cut can be grilled, braised or pan-fried. A fairly tender cut that has a buttery flavour. Use a marinade to make it even tenderer and be sure to not overcook.
 
Shoulder Tender/ Teres Major
 
A very lean cut of meat from the cow’s shoulder that is an inexpensive substitute for filet mignon or beef tenderloin. It is best cooked by searing in a pan then finished in the oven or cooked on the barbecue with indirect heat (learn how to cook with indirect heat).
 
Chuck Steak
 
Chuck is closest to a rib-eye and can be cooked similarly. However, this cut is not deboned and can be a bit chewy, but will still be very flavourful.

 
Similar to beef, cheaper cuts of pork come from the shoulder.
 
Shoulder Roast
 
A very versatile cut, the shoulder roast can be used in stews or—our personal favourite—to make pulled pork. Best cooked low and slow, the shoulder roast will turn out very tender.
 
Country-Style Ribs
 
Despite their name, they do not actually come from the ribs but are cut from shoulder steaks. If you don’t see them on display at your local grocery store, ask the butcher to prepare some. This cut is best served season or marinated  for making kebabs.

 
Look for whole chickens or options that are bone-in or have the skin still attached. With chicken, you are often paying extra for the convenience of having the chicken broken down and cleaned. Removing the bones or skin yourself will add extra time to your preparation, but will save you money at the till.
 
Whole Chicken
 
The most cost effective option is to by a whole chicken and roast it at home, but many local grocery stores now carry roasted chickens in grab-n-go areas for a respectable price.
 
Chicken Thighs
 
Made less popular because of their higher fat content, chicken thighs are a perfect economical choice. They are easier to cook because you have a lower risk of overcooking them and drying them out. Even their boneless, skinless option is cheaper than purchasing chicken breasts, but these can easily be removed before cooking too.

 

 


 

 
Last updated on April 21, 2017